CURRENT AFFAIRS

07.26.2012

Tech in the Classroom :What Do Teachers REALLY Want?

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What do teachers want in the classroom? A new survery reveals they want more technology, primarily so they can engage the students more and help them retain what they learn. The biggest hurdle to purchasing all the new tech - no surprise - is budget.

PBS LearningMedia has designed an infographic revealing “WHAT TEACHERS WANT” when it comes to classroom tech (pictured above.) All pretty obvious so far.

But PBS LearningMedia also created a a free, media-on-demand service for parents and teachers, which provides easy, instant access to tens-of-thousands of classroom-ready, digital resources including videos and interactives , ie.for the Interactive Whiteboard, plus audio and photos, and even in-depth lesson plans.

We gave it a spin and especially liked some of the videos with popular authors, such as Jerry Spinelli (creator of the wonderful Maniac Magee character) who explains to his youthful audience that sports and books are not mutually exclusive. He encourages kids to emulate Maniac Magee and read books as much as possible.

There's also a "PBS TeacherLine" which helps educators build a repertoire of teaching strategies and knowledge of "research-based instructional concepts" for the new school year.

The school year just got a lot more interesting.


Posted by Evan    Category: current affairs
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01.11.2012

So Many Gadgets; So Little Time. CES 2012

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Photo Credit: CES


Without a breakthrough, must-have product showcasing at CES in Vegas this year, we thought the crowds might be smaller. We were wrong. The Consumer Electronics Association reports that there are over 150,000 attendees this year, and a record 3,100 companies exhibiting.

As always, Apple doesn't join the party, preferring to launch its products at its own convention, but there are plenty of "i" products to see. iBike, iRobot, iDevices, iWish ... (ok, just kidding on that last one.)

IF there is any news this year, it's in the TV world. They're bigger, with better resolution (4K is now the standard to beat) and Samsung showed off a prototype of its high-end "Smart TV line," that it says will allow users to control their sets with voice and motion control and facial-recognition technology.

"For example, users can turn the TV on or off, activate selected apps or search for content in the web browser simply by speaking in any of the 20 to 30 languages that are supported by the technology," a Samsung spokesman said. "With a wave of their hand, they can browse and choose a link or content via the web browser and two unidirectional array microphones recognize voice at an incredibly accurate rate." (A built-in camera in the top-of-theline Smart TV sets recognizes movement.)

Meanwhile, Sharp demonstrated its Aquos Freestyle TVs which are made to be portable. By using a wireless signal the models at the booth were able to happily carry them around and we did find the TV very lightweight. Take it outside for a BBQ or into the kitchen to watch a cooking demo.

Every company is out to beat Apple to their rumored TV launch, but if an iTV does hit the market this year - if history is any indicator - it will probably outstrip everything we saw at CES.

Besides TVs, we saw an iPhone in a fountain, demonstrating a water-proof coating from company Liquipel ; miles of bejeweled iPhone cases, and made friends with iRobot Ava, who roamed the convention floor. Ava has a tablet for a head and from the "neck" down looks like a vacuum cleaner. If we hadn't been so tired, I'm sure we wouldn't have asked it for directions.


Posted by Evan    Category: current affairs
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02.17.2011

The singularity is near - tests of human mind's ability to control robot

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The Singularity is Near. Humans may soon be able to control robots with our minds. Scientists at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and the University of Pittsburgh have already shown that monkeys can control a robotic arm with their minds. And if a monkey can do it, . . .

Funding has been granted to start human clinical trials.

Via CNET News.

Posted by lydia    Category: body | current affairs | science
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11. 2.2010

Smartphone Germ Killer

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Ever since I read about the Stanford University study which declared cell phones "dirtier than toilets", I've been totally paranoid about how unclean my phones are. The study declared that touchscreens, in particular, are breeding grounds for e.coli, influenza, staph, strep, and salmonella. I'm a little bit of a germaphobe in the best of times, and now I've got a little infant who touches almost everything I do, and has been known to try to eat my iPhone.

What to do? Antibacterial wipes are fine for most plastic cases, but will leave a slightly blurry film on your touchscreen glass. Wipes and sprays meant for cleaning phones and electronics are sometimes alcohol-based, which should help eliminate some germs, but the protection is short-lived. and you can't reach into tiny spaces like in between keys. A better solution may be the UV Smartphone Sanitizer. The sanitizer, made by Vio Light, the company that makes the toothbrush sanitizers, uses UV light to kill 99.9% of germs on your smartphone, including the ones hiding in tight spaces and wipe-inaccessible corners. You just put your phone in the case and give it a 5-minute UV light shower.

Your phone will emerge germ-free, but of course, germs lurk everywhere so it's best to treat your phone almost like something you eat from- like a cup- if it's touched your hands or your face, give it a wipe-down, and then a thorough cleaning later on. Wash your hands constantly, and try to be careful about where you put your phone down. You wouldn't rub a dirty plate on your face, but a phone laying on a germy table often goes right up to your ear, and certainly all over your hands.

One more thing to worry about, yay. But seriously, keep your phone clean. The UV Smartphone Sanitizer is available for $49.95 from Hammacher.

Posted by Mia    Category: cell phones | current affairs | devices
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12.12.2009

Green Tech: Green jobs outlook, hope or hype?

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Is the promise of green jobs all hype, or are more and more green jobs on the way in the US? Popular Mechanics has just published an extensive report on green jobs that is mostly optimistic.

At the moment, green jobs account for a minuscule proportion of US jobs--just under half of 1%. But between 1998 and 2007, green jobs grew at a rate of 9.1% annually , compared with overall job growth of 3.7%. That initial burst may help cushion job green job decline during the current recession, experts hope.

Among the green jobs growing fastest, Popular Mechanics reports, are fuel cell engineers, smart-grid engineers, green architects and builders, and energy auditors. A few states have taken the lead in green job growth. In Oregon, for example, green jobs are already 1% of total Oregon jobs, the highest in the nation. Other states on the move are Idaho, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Maine.

Posted by Tam    Category: current affairs
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10.13.2009

Women had The Right Stuff to be early astronauts, but their timing was lousy

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Who are these women? They're women who had hopes of being among the first US astronauts some 50 years ago. And we all know how that turned out.

It wasn't that they didn't have The Right Stuff. They passed all the psychological tests and took the same physical as the guys. And (are you surprised?) they often did better. But they were not among the Mercury astronauts, and in fact never really had a shot at being part of that illustrious team.

Henry Spencer, amateur space historian, wants you to know that what kept the women out of space was not the rampant sexism of the time. No, it was just that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had decided to recruit only military test pilots for the program. And it just happened that all military test pilots were men. Because in those years, the US military didn't accept women into pilot training programs.

So it definitely wasn't sexism.

In fact, it was really the women's fault. They had no sense of timing.

For an update on how the women did on the tests, see here. There are also links to a new paper describing the process in more detail.

The 1995 NASA photo above shows some of the women who might have been among the original astronauts if only the times--or their pesky X chromosomes--had been different. They had gathered to watch Eileen Collins' launch as the first female pilot of a space shuttle mission. It only took a quarter-century. From left to right: Gene Nora Stumbough Jessen, Wally Funk, Jerrie Cobb, Jerri Sloan Truhill, Sarah Gorelick Ratley, Myrtle ("Kay") Cagle, and Bernice ("B") Steadman.

Posted by Tam    Category: current affairs
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10. 9.2009

H1N1, swine flu, Bill Maher, and U

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Comedian/pundit/talk show host Bill Maher has reportedly tweeted that folks who get vaccinated against the new H1N1 ("swine") flu are idiots. Medical wisdom in 140 characters? Or is Maher, the twit, the real idiot?

Before you get swept away in an anti-vaccine frenzy, you might want to consult what www.flu.gov has to say. That's the US government's official take on the imminent flu season, complete with characters from Sesame Street. There's plenty of stuff for grown-ups too: what to do if you get flu-like symptoms, what pregnant women should know, places to get vaccinated against both seasonal flu and H1N1, and lots more.

This is a two-flu year, with H1N1 piling on top of the regular old seasonal flu that kills plenty of people on its own. There are different vaccines against these different diseases. Each flu tends to attack different groups, as I explained a few weeks ago.

Posted by Tam    Category: current affairs
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10. 5.2009

Ig Nobel prize winner: A bra that offers support AND life support

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What women need are more bras that offer not just support, but life support. A while back I wrote about a sports bra that monitors your heart rate. Now there's a bra with more immediate life-saving potential.

This bra turns into 2 gas masks. One for you, one for a friend.

Behind this at-first-glance-ridiculous invention is a seriously unpleasant event: the 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl in Ukraine, usually described as the worst-ever. Scientist Elena Bodnar, formerly of Ukraine, the new bra's inventor, says her design could have kept people from breathing in deadly Iodine-131. This radioisotope was a major contributor to the rise in cancer and other health effects among people in the vicinity. (Thanks to Elizabeth Anderson Moore, who blogs at cnet.)

Bodnar was one of the winners of this year's Ig Nobel prizes. The Ig Nobels are an annual comic-kaze and always one of the highlights of the year in science. The Ig Nobels honor scientific achievements "that first make people laugh, and then make them think."

The photo shows Bodnar demonstrating her bra to three real Nobel laureates. All are wearing her creation, which comes in pink and black. That's the high-profile economist and columnist Paul Krugman on the far right--not his usual position.

Another of this year's Ig Nobel winners is anthropologist Liza Shapiro, who developed a theory about why pregnant women don't tip over: Women's back curves are anatomically different from men's. It's an evolutionary adaptation to upright posture and the need to carry a fetus out in front instead of underneath.

Posted by Tam    Category: current affairs
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08.30.2009

Robocalls are banned. Sort of.

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The US Federal Trade Commission says there will be no more of those infuriating prerecorded telemarketing solicitations, known not so fondly as robocalls, unless you're so lonely you want them. Telemarketers, the government says, will now need written permission from the callee before setting the robots loose.

So, great, no more robocalls at dinnertime. Oh, wait. Except for the exceptions. Which include calls from charities, banks, politicians, insurers, phone companies, surveys--and, best of all, debt collection agencies.

Also permitted are telemarketing calls from actual humans--unless the phone number is on the National Do Not Call Registry. Find the Do Not Call registry here.

Posted by Tam    Category: current affairs
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08.29.2009

Synthetic life before 2010?

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Will scientists have synthesized a living organism for the first time by the end of this year? That's the breathtaking prediction by Craig Venter--a top-rank molecular biologist whose breathtaking predictions have a way of coming true.

Among the practical reasons for doing such a thing would be creating organisms that can make biofuels or clean up toxic wastes. Might there be other reasons, some of them scary? Stay tuned. Meantime, take a look at the 80Beats analysis.

Posted by Tam    Category: current affairs
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